The PGA TOUR has launched a bonus scheme for its players that rewards those who make the most impact during the course of the season.
According to a report in US magazine Golfweek, the PGA TOUR’s ‘Player Impact Program’ began at the start of 2021 with the full knowledge of the tour’s membership and will conclude at the end of the current season, with the top ten players earning a share of a $40m fund, with the overall winner picking up a $8m bonus.
Players will earn their bonuses based on their ‘Impact Score’, which is a combination of metrics based largely on popularity, fan recognition and engagement, and media coverage.
The measurable statistics will include a player’s popularity on Google Search; the time they feature in TV coverage; their level of recognition among focus groups; social media interaction, and the amount of media coverage – both positive and negative – they generate across all platforms. The player’s position in the season-ending Fedex Cup ranking will also be taken into consideration.
The list will generate a group of players that potentially most help drive ticket sales at events, attract TV audiences and have the biggest fan bases.
According to a retrospective analysis of players from the 2019, the poll would, unsurprisingly, have been topped by Tiger Woods, followed by Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose and Adam Scott.
Among that group were two players, Scott and Spieth, who didn’t win a tournament that season, while two of that year’s major winners, Shane Lowry and Gary Woodland, would not have figured in the top ten most impactful players.
When asked about the new bonus plan, three-time major champion Brooks Koepka told Golfweek: “Tiger should be No.1 on that list no matter what. He’s the entire reason we’re able to play for so much money, the entire reason this sport is as popular as it is, and the reason most of us are playing. No-one else come close.”
Justin Rose added: “I think with media dollars being so astronomical these days, and four, five, six guys always being the ones that are being used to promote the tournament, I guess it’s just a way of trying to sort of incentivise them. A rising tide lifts all ships, so obviously the whole tour has benefited very much from a group of guys.”
The programme is seen as a direct reaction to the planned Premier Golf League, which has tried to lure some of the sport’s biggest stars for a breakaway tour. In January 2020, the World Golf Group unveiled plans for the 18-event PGL, which offers a total prize purse of $240m and is tentatively scheduled to debut in January 2022. An eight-month season would start in January, with 10 of the 18 tournaments being held in the United States. WGG is seeking to sign up 48 players, with an individual champion to be decided after the 17th event and the finale to be staged as a team play-off.